Legislation and ethics


Animal experimentation in the European Union is subject to strict legislation, and in the Netherlands this is set down in the Experiments on Animals Act. This act is based on the intrinsic worth of the animal: the worth of the animal in and of itself, independent of its value or use to man. This means that there must be a very good reason for carrying out animal experimentation.

According to the law, animal experimentation must be subjected to ethical review. This takes place according to strictly organised procedures overseen by the Animal Welfare Body.


All animals have an intrinsic worth, a worth that is independent of its value or use to man. This means that the interests of the animal, for example to avoid pain and suffering, must be respected. The animal deserves this respect because of what it is, because it is a living being that is able to experience pain and suffering.

Prior to every animal experiment, experts weigh up the general interests (for example finding a cure for a disease) against the interests of the animal. The argument as to whether or not the experiment is acceptable must be clearly substantiated. A panel of independent experts checks that a sound ethical assessment has been made. Furthermore, it is necessary that

  1. the animal experiment is of sufficient academic quality
  2. the results can be expected to contribute to other research or teaching
  3. an active effort has been made to explore alternatives that would render the animal experimentation unnecessary or less damaging to the animal
  4. the research contributes either directly or indirectly to human or animal health